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More questions asked over Neuadd Maldwyn

 
Created on 29/09/2020 @ 10:29
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

More questions are being asked over the future of Neuadd Maldwyn, the council building at the centre of a controversial plan that resulted in the downgrading of Welshpool library.

Welshpool residents and their town council are sceptical about the need to convert the Grade II listed building into an extra care facility for older people.

The move means that staff will be relocated to the library building on the back road which has been squeezed in with Powysland Museum by the canal as a result. The knock-on effect also saw charities asked to vacate premises on the high street so the overspill of staff could be accommodated. One of those charities was moved to The Armoury which brought to an end decades-use as a sports centre.

Yesterday, it was also reported that the cost to change the library to office space had escalated by 50% to £265,000.

Plans to turn Powys County Council’s offices into 66 one and two-bedroom apartments were submitted by Clwyd Alyn Housing Association earlier this year.

Two other planning applications for listed building consent and conservation area consent have also been submitted.

Welshpool Town Council discussed the application and has listed 14 issues members raised about the application. They have also brought another 13 issues from people who live close to the site to the attention of planners.

Interim Welshpool Town Council clerk Ann Wilson said: “There is concern about the development being for a single age group – not mixed accommodation.”

The council has also been told in a presentation by Dylan Owen, Powys County Council’s head of social services commissioning, that the county is losing young people, and that they are being replace by retired people on a rate of two to one.

Mrs Wilson said: “There is already pressure on the existing local services and the healthcare service for the nature and type of this developments.

“It is known that there is a shortage of carers locally which means that there is a continual need for agency staff to travel into Welshpool to carry out this type of work.”

She also pointed out that for a town with a population of under 7,000 people, there are already 16 care, supported living or nursing homes in Welshpool.

“This shows that this age group is adequately catered for already and the Neuadd Maldwyn development should be considered for a mixed age group,” said Mrs Wilson.

On the issues brought up by neighbours of Neuadd Maldwyn, Mrs Wilson added their concerns by adding: “PCC have been fastidious with Clive House and number two and three Clive Place, the owners’ being unable to replace a window, trim a tree nor change the surface finish of a drive way without oversight.

“Yet this development appears to be pushed through roughshod, without style, grace nor engagement.

“The residents of Welshpool do not want another mini-Oldford and we remain overwhelmingly sceptical of the need and quality of the end result.”

The scheme is one of three Extra Care Facilities that PCC are planning in the county estimated to be worth more than £13 million. The other schemes are earmarked for Ystradgynlais and Brecon.

The first extra care scheme in Powys, Llys Glan yr Afon in Newtown, was opened in 2017.

Clwyd Alyn agents Mitchel Lovelock said in the Design and Access Statement (DAS): “Justification for the change of use of the listed Neuadd Maldwyn building, from a local government office to extra care residential accommodation for the elderly, is that the latter has been identified as a significant social need. This need has been verified by PCC’s Social Services.

“Secure, comfortable accommodation will be provided for Welshpool’s ageing population near the centre of town, helping residents to maintain established connections with friends and family, along with local shops and amenities.”

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